Front-line council staff may be kitted out with body cameras

PUBLISHED: 14:37 29 September 2016 | UPDATED: 14:37 29 September 2016

Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell

Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

The move could help tackle environmental crime

City councillors are considering the introduction of body cameras to help enforce prosecutions by front line council officers.

The news follows this morning’s report that body cameras cut complaints against police officers by 93 per cent.

Cambridge City Council’s Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee will discuss the proposals on 10 October and a decision will be made.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Council, said: “Tackling environmental crime is a priority for the council and it’s important that our members of staff, who are at the sharp end dealing with sometimes very difficult situations, have the kit they need to do the job.

“After all, this is all about our officers trying to deter people from committing anti-social offences such as dropping litter, dumping waste or allowing their dog to foul our streets – all things that blight the city we all care about so much.

“Body worn cameras could also provide our staff with additional benefits in a similar way to Cambridgeshire police officers. We have learnt plenty from the police experience in implementing body worn cameras and we would ensure their use is guided by a similar code of practice.

“There would be plenty of safeguards in place and the cameras would be used in a way that respects people’s privacy and adheres to all the recommended guidelines.”

If councillors approve the recommendations eight cameras would be purchased using money from fixed penalty notices, costing a total of £3,000.

Some 75 per cent of instances in which officers issue a fixed penalty notice reportedly involve them being subjected to verbal abuse by members of the public.

Strict guidelines would be adhered to to align with data protection regulations and police best practice, including only switching on the cameras if the officer has reason to believe video evidence may be needed.

This means they would not be recording for a whole patrol but only in a situation that the officer believes may become confrontational, may involve them being abused or where they are witnessing an offence such as littering, dog fouling or punt touting, in progress.

In such situations and whenever possible, the officer would tell those involved in the incident that they are switching on the camera to record them.

Any footage would be stored securely for a limited time before being destroyed unless needed as part of an investigation.

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